I have been reading a book by Robert Penn called “It’s All About the Bike” which a friend gave me last week. Penn has been a life-long cyclist and rode around the world in his late twenties.
The book is the story of his love affair with cycling and the journey to build his dream bike.
He goes into great detail about the invention and development of the bicycle but never once mentions anything beyond the traditional diamond frame design.
It would appear that he had never heard of recumbents, which have been around since at least the early 1930’s (Francis Faure captured the world hour record in July 1933).
Interestingly, he describes one of the factors that lead me to recumbents:
“I’ve suffered from numb hands over the years. It’s a common cyclists’ complaint, often dubbed ‘cyclists’ palsy’.”
and, describing a particular long descent he says:
“First my hands went numb – something I was used to – but the alarm bells really started ringing when I realized I couldn’t feel anything beneath my elbows, nor could I pull the brake to stop the bike.”
Coincidentally I read a thread on the [Randon] email list today about handlebars wherein Jake says:
“I should say I’m still looking for the magic bullet for hand and shoulder pain which has only gotten worse in my ~12 years of long rides.
I’d like to not switch to a recumbent. (I’m not making a dig at recumbent riders. You guys rock!)”
Another commenter says:
“I have nerve damage and carpal tunnel.”
One of my memories of the Paris-Brest-Paris 1200km randonnee is from after the event when a number of us were reliving our ride in St Quentin.
The discussion revolved around saddle sores, neck and shoulder pain, numb fingers and other ailments.
I could not think of anything to complain about, having not suffered any of those problems since switching to a recumbent.
The only issue I occasionally suffer from is “hot-foot” – a burning feeling on the soles of my feet on long hot rides which happens on uprights as well.
I wonder what it is that stops people from trying something different, even when it is recognised as potentially solving a problem they are having?